More than a quarter of a million pre-foreclosures and notices of pending foreclosure auctions were filed nationwide in the first quarter, a rise of 22.5% from the level recorded in the fourth quarter of 2006, according to ForeclosureS.com, a Fair Oaks, Calif.-based investment advisory firm.The 253,803 filings, up from 207,128 in the fourth quarter, don't include more than 110,000 now-vacant properties that were lost to foreclosure during the same period, the company said. Noting the recent turmoil in the subprime market, the company said the result is that "financially strapped homeowners now have even fewer bailout options." Alexis McGee, president of the firm, said the foreclosure numbers "cast a dark cloud over the American dream of homeownership" that "isn't likely to lift anytime soon." The company can be found online at http://www.foreclosures.com.

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